In the world of IoT messaging, where accuracy and efficiency are crucial, HiveMQ sets the enterprise standard. In this blog post I'll break down our onboarding process, the critical path we provide to ensure our customers quickly unlock the full potential of our platform. We hope this blog will answer some of the frequently asked questions we receive from customers about onboarding.
Each customer journey is different, yet we have seen several shared themes after providing an MQTT platform for business-critical applications for more than a decade. To ensure we can tailor the optimum experience to each individual, we start each journey with a call where our main goal is to listen. Based on this first call we schedule our onboarding session and adjust the following journey to the customer’s needs.
The Importance of the Onboarding Session
The first and most critical step is a synchronous onboarding session where we align on the expectations that were set during the sales process and how we can ensure those expectations are met or exceeded for our customers. We also reiterate the value HiveMQ, as the most trusted leader in the IoT messaging market, brings to customers.
As pioneers in our market, the onboarding session allows us to share what worked and what didn’t work for others before, shortening the duration and increasing the chance of success for the implementation phase. In this session, a lot of questions come up from both sides, which is intended since it aids in the creation of a successful implementation plan. The onboarding session marks the official start of the customer’s post-sales journey with HiveMQ and sets the baseline for future interactions.
The Structure of the Session
The session is composed of two parts. The first part aims to align HiveMQ's strategy to deliver the customer’s expected business outcome. We will cover topics such as vision, goals, strategy, metrics, measures, controls, and the desired engagement model. These topics ensure that we have a shared understanding of what we want to achieve together long-term, developing a mutual plan to get us there.
In the second part, we do a quick review of the tech stack, the architecture, share best practices, configurations, examples of other customers, examine and propose an operation and maintenance strategy, and share what to expect in the implementation phase and onwards.
What Makes an Onboarding Session Successful
Know the customer and their business
Naturally we collect and pass on relevant information about our customer’s desired business outcomes during the entire sales cycle. Once we enter the post-sales stage of the customer journey we like to take this opportunity to verify and augment that information and also get a first hand account of the market they are in and how the project using HiveMQ will help them succeed.
Customers buy software with the intent of achieving a desired outcome. In the case of HiveMQ, these outcomes can vary from increased overall equipment efficiency (OEE), to improved end-user experience, to demonstrating the ability to be innovators in a specific market segment. In our onboarding sessions, we listen and try to understand what each customer is looking to get from purchasing our software.
Introduction, roles, and responsibilities
Effective communication builds on the knowledge about who to contact about what. We spend time understanding the customer’s roles and responsibilities and likewise share who to contact at HiveMQ for different questions. This helps us build the trusting relationship we are looking for to ensure mutual success.
Know what to measure
In order to achieve measurable success, we must identify what can and should be measured. We look to answer a few questions with our customers to understand their baseline and what should be tracked to show progress.
What are your KPIs?
What does success look like in this project?
What deliverables can be measured on your end?
What is your timeline and what are the key milestones in it?
What is the critical path?
What are your highest priorities?
Talking and understanding the technical use case is essential for a successful endeavor.
Since helping our customers achieve technical success is at the core of our work, we typically spend a fair amount of time asking questions to get into the details of what the customer is trying to achieve from a purely technical standpoint.
During the tech review, we will go through the customer’s architecture, tech stack, and data flow. We want to know about all of the technologies the customer plans to use, and how. We want to see the end-to-end path of the data, from devices to analytics. The tech review is also a good time to analyze the technical decisions that have been already made and the impact they have had.
Develop a success plan
We will develop a common success plan, with mutual responsibilities and defined milestones, leading to accountability for success of the use case.
Most success plans include these phases:
Maintenance and operations (day 2)
Next steps after the session
After our session we will:
Share what was discussed and talked about
Set up the engagement model that was agreed upon
Execute the action items created during the onboarding session
When should the onboarding session take place?
Ideally, the onboarding session happens as close to the purchase date of the HiveMQ license as possible. HiveMQ’s Customer Success Managers are flexible and schedule the sessions according to the customer’s needs.
Can topics be adjusted to meet the customer's needs?
We can always adjust to the customer's needs, and nothing is written in stone. Likely, the customer has already talked about some of these topics with their Account Executive, who in turn can share with the Customer Success Manager so the session can be catered to their specific requirements and objectives.
How long is it?
The standard format is a two-hour session, where 30 min to 45 min is dedicated to business executives, and the rest to the technical personas.
Who should attend?
The first part, ideally, should be attended by executives, or stakeholders that define the vision for the company’s digital transformation and have ownership of the decision-making process and budget of the project.
The second part is for the technical champions, for every individual who will interact with the HiveMQ platform in one way or the other. Technical champions may include implementation teams, DevOps, tech leaders, infrastructure engineers, IT architects, and software developers.
Does every customer receive an onboarding session?
We provide onboarding sessions to all self-hosted customers as well as all HiveMQ Cloud Professional or Enterprise customers.
What happens next?
Stay tuned for our next blog on how we can best support our customers after the onboarding process.
Francisco Menéres is Senior Customer Success Manager – EMEA at HiveMQ. Francisco excels at helping customers achieve their business goals by bringing a unique perspective and a proactive approach to problem-solving. His ability to see the big picture allows him to develop effective strategies and drive success, whether he’s working with people one-on-one or leading a team.